Navajo Post Staff - page 2

Navajo Post Staff has 40 articles published.

The Navajo Post Newspaper is a monthly newspaper that covers tribal communities in Arizona, New Mexico and Navajo Nation.

Navajo Nation official pleads not guilty to $6M theft charge

in Breaking News

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — A Navajo Nation official has been accused of unlawfully transferring $6 million of Ramah Navajo Chapter funds to different investing companies without proper authorization.

Tribal officials say Ramah Navajo Chapter President David Jose was arraigned Monday on three counts of theft. He pleaded not guilty.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Prosecutors say one of the investment companies filed for bankruptcy less than a year after Jose made a $1 million transfer to the company.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice is seeking to recover those funds in a bankruptcy proceeding.
The Ramah Chapter is located in New Mexico and is part of the Navajo Nation.

Gay, Native American Democrat busts candidate mold in Kansas

in Latest News


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrat Sharice Davids of Kansas added her name Wednesday to her party’s increasingly diverse slate of candidates advancing to the November ballot.

Davids, who would be the first gay, Native American elected to Congress, narrowly won a six-way primary in her eastern Kansas district, shattering the mold for a congressional primary winner in conservative Kansas and embodying the range of ethnicities and sexual orientations of Democratic candidates running throughout the country this fall.

Notably, the 38-year-old lawyer and activist from Kansas City, Kansas, is among a wave of gay, bisexual and transgender candidates running — the vast majority as Democrats — including at the top of the ballot in key states.
“Voters in the third congressional district have sent a clear message to the nation: Fairness and tolerance are Kansas values,” said Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, a LGBT advocacy organization.

Roughly 200 LGBT candidates are expected to be on the November ballot across the country for state and federal office, the most ever, according to Sean Meloy, senior political director of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a non-partisan political advocacy group. They include national figures such as Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the nation’s first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, as well as Arizona Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, who is bisexual, and Jared Polis of Colorado, who could become the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S.

Davids also is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, but is not alone among Native American women running for prominent political office this year.

Democrat Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, won the June primary for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, a Democratic-leaning district that includes the Albuquerque area.

There’s also Democrat Paulette Jordan of Idaho. A member of the Couer d’Alene Tribe, Jordan won the June primary for Idaho governor, but faces an uphill battle in the Republican-heavy state to become the first Native American governor.

In Michigan on Tuesday, state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic primary in the state’s 13th Congressional District. With no Republican opponent on the November ballot, she’s poised to become the nation’s first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

In Kansas, Davids will face four-term Republican Kevin Yoder in the 3rd Congressional District, a Republican-leaning swath of urban and suburban eastern Kansas.

In their effort to claim seats in competitive districts now represented by Republicans, Democrats are targeting Yoder’s, where Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016 while losing the state overall to Republican Donald Trump. Democrats must gain 23 seats to claim the House majority.

Davids was overshadowed nationally by labor lawyer Brent Welder, whom Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed and campaigned for last month. Preliminary totals showed Davids edging Welder in the crowded field by 2,088 votes out of 61,321 cast.

“We were excited to talk with her, to fight for her, as others got national attention,” LGBTQ Victory’s Meloy said.
Though Davids represents a new generation of diverse candidates, the district she’s running to represent has little ethnic diversity. Johnson County, the district’s most populous, is 87 percent white.

Davids is a Cornell University law school graduate who worked as a lawyer for an Indian reservation in South Dakota before working as a White House fellow during Barack Obama’s presidency.

She also is a mixed martial arts fighter who introduced herself to voters with a video showing her in the ring, landing solid kicks to a large punching bag.

“You told me you needed someone who lives your struggles,” she wrote in an early Wednesday fundraising email to supporters that began with, “We did it!”

Davids was backed by abortion-rights advocacy group EMILY’s List, has called for treating gun violence as a public health crisis and has criticized tax cuts enacted by Trump.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, quickly tagged Davids as an “extreme” liberal and predicted she would vote in lockstep with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
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Kayenta man sentenced for manslaughter conviction

in Latest News

PHOENIX (AP) — A Kayenta man has been sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for his involuntary manslaughter conviction for being impaired while driving during a 2017 rollover crash that killed his passenger.

Ethan Barlow, 27, was sentenced Wednesday. The death occurred on the Navajo Reservation. The victim’s name wasn’t listed in court records.

Barlow had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in April and acknowledged that he had been drinking rum and smoking marijuana before the crash.

The conviction carried a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

New Mexico woman gets prison term in fatal 2017 car crash

in Latest News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Mariano Lake woman who pleaded guilty in federal court in Albuquerque to an involuntary manslaughter charge has been sentenced to 34 months in prison.

Prosecutors say Allen also was sentenced Wednesday to three years of supervised release after she completes her prison term.

The 33-year-old Allen was arrested in October 2017 on a criminal complaint charging her with killing a man a month earlier on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico’s McKinley County.

Prosecutors say Allen lost control of her vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and the car rolled, killing a male passenger.

Allen subsequently was indicted and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

She pleaded guilty three months ago.

Court dismisses challenge to Indian child welfare law

in Breaking News

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal appeals court has dismissed a challenge to a law that gives preference to American Indian families in adoptions of Native children.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.
Rather, it dismissed the complaint from a Phoenix-based right-leaning think tank, the Goldwater Institute, saying it’s moot.

The institute had sought to keep two children with ties to the Gila River and Navajo tribes from being removed from their non-Native foster parents.

Those children since have been adopted.

The law firm Akin Gump represented the tribes. Attorney Don Pongrace says the court’s decision is one victory in an ongoing struggle to protect tribal sovereignty.

The Goldwater Institute said Tuesday it will ask the 9th Circuit for a rehearing.

Navajo man gets back on Utah ballot after judge’s ruling

in Breaking News

By BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Navajo man will be put back on the ballot for a Utah county commission seat after a judge sided with him Tuesday in his lawsuit against a county that disqualified him in the first election since a judge ruled local voting districts were illegally drawn based on race.

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ordered San Juan County to put Willie Grayeyes back on the ballot during a hearing in federal court in Moab, Utah, said Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission. He attended the hearing.

Grayeyes sued after he was disqualified for the ballot when county officials investigated a complaint and determined he didn’t live in the district, but primarily in Tuba City, Arizona. The Navajo Nation overlaps with San Juan County and stretches into Arizona and New Mexico. Many people in the remote areas travel frequently for work and collect their mail across state lines.

Grayeyes is running as a Democrat for a seat on the three-person county commission in the remote southeastern Utah county where Navajos and Republican county leaders have clashed for years over voting and election issues.

Lawyers for Grayeyes say he’s lived and been registered to vote there for decades. They argue he was targeted because new, court-ordered voting districts could help more Navajos get elected.

The county said race and politics weren’t involved in the decision.

Grayeyes and his attorney didn’t immediately return phone calls and emails seeking comment Tuesday about the ruling.

A spokeswoman for San Juan County also didn’t immediately return phone call and emails. It’s unknown if the county will appeal and keep fighting to keep Grayeyes off the November ballot.

It’s a shame the county is spending some of its limited resources fighting this issue, Gorman said. There’s a clear pattern by the county making it hard on Navajos to vote, he said.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby handed down new districts after he decided the county was racially gerrymandered to minimize the voices of Navajo voters, who make up half the electorate. Similar legal clashes have been waged over Native American voting rights in several states.

County leaders are challenging the new districts they say unfairly carve up the county’s largest city of Blanding, about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

Grayeyes serves on the board of Utah Diné Bikéyah, a group that supported the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument to protect land that tribes consider sacred and is home to ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

The creation of the monument by President Barack Obama was fiercely opposed by Republican leaders in San Juan County and statewide. President Donald Trump ordered the monument downsized last year in a move that pleased state and county leaders.

Navajo robotics team heads to international competition

in Latest News
This March 3, 2018 photo provided by Heather Anderson shows from left, Navajo Mountain High School students Nahida Smith and Cuay Bitsinnie compete in a Utah regional robotics competition in West Valley City, Utah. The team from a remote town in southern Utah is now headed to an international robotics competition Aug. 14 in Mexico City, Mexico. They were invited to compete in the First Global Challenge, which will draw teams from 190 countries to create robots capable of feeding power plants and building environmentally efficient transmission networks. (Heather Anderson via AP)


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A team of Navajo high school students from a remote town in southern Utah is building a robot to represent North America in an international robotics competition.

The teenagers have worked all summer on the project, scheduling meetings between long drives to jobs far from the red rock and sage country of Navajo Mountain, where there is little paid work, said teacher Heather Anderson.

The team was specially invited to compete in the First Global Challenge that starts Aug. 14 in Mexico City. Teams from more than 190 countries will create robots for energy generation, especially renewable power. Teams hail from countries ranging from Congo to Ukraine, and also include separate teams representing specifically the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Team Naatsis’aan, a Navajo name that translates to Navajo Mountain, has been competing for two years in Utah and ranks among the best in the state at that level, said Chelsey Short, the regional director for FIRST Robotics. They got started after an Australian team reached out online and supportive coaches kept it going, but sustaining the program at a high school with a total of 30 students has been challenging.

“It’s not like they had those technical skills, they decided they wanted to start a team and just kind of went for it, and they found mentors along the way,” Short said.

Even getting food for team meetings can be a challenge, since the nearest restaurants and grocery stores are 90 minutes away from the Navajo Mountain community, where a number of homes don’t have running water, Anderson said. When they ran out of specialized screws, they had to wait two weeks to receive more in the mail.

“It was frustrating because of the time it wasted before Mexico,” said team member Breana Bitsinnie, 18. They worked around it by focusing on other tasks while they were waiting.

Team member Jason Slender, 16, said he grew up repairing laptops and phones, skills that came in handy when it comes to building robots. “The best part was brainstorming how we should design the robot, and managing to all agree on one,” he said Tuesday. He’s taking his first plane ride for the event.

Each of the teams heading to Mexico City is building a robot capable of feeding power plants to scale and an efficient transmission network. The Navajo team will have to work in alliances with other teams to score points in the challenge organized by the robotics nonprofit First Global. Since they speak different languages, they’ll use a system of hand gestures to communicate, Bitsinnie said.

The team from the Navajo Nation got a kit of supplies to build their robots in early June, and they’re programming the machines to perform tasks like moving boxes to specific spots on a playing field and turning a windmill, Anderson said.
For the students, the experience has sparked an interest in computer and programming careers.

“The kids are really patient. They’re used to jumping through a lot of different hoops,” Anderson said. “That’s what’s really special about this team; they’re really proud of their work.”

Auto group accused of deceptive practices to sell to Navajos

in Latest News

By FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission is accusing an auto group in the U.S. Southwest of using deceptive and unlawful practices to sell vehicles to Navajos.

The complaint against Tate’s Auto Group, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Arizona, says the company falsified consumers’ monthly income and down payments on financing applications and contracts without them knowing. The complaint also says the company used deceptive advertising.

It’s part of a push by the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission to protect Navajo consumers. The commission has been collecting information from tribal members about business practices in towns that border the reservation, which spans Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It issued a report in 2014 that showed more complaints were received about Tate’s than other auto dealerships.

“The representation from the auto dealer is that ‘we’re helping your Navajo people,’ ” Leonard Gorman, executive director of the commission, said Thursday. “The reality is you’re cheating our Navajo people.”

Tate’s Auto Group has dealerships in Show Low, Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona; and in Gallup, New Mexico. Owner Richard Berry said he was stunned by the complaint and rejected a settlement offer from the FTC earlier this year.

The company has safeguards in place to ensure it sells and services customers honestly and to the best of its ability, he said. “We are confident that we will be vindicated and appreciate the continued support of our community, staff and customers,” Berry wrote in a statement.

Fraud reviews from third-party financing companies found that Tate’s inflated customers’ monthly incomes by hundreds or thousands of dollars, according to the complaint. One of those companies stopped doing business with Tate’s in January 2016 after suffering financial losses when customers defaulted on loans or their vehicles had to be repossessed, the complaint states.

Tate’s also misrepresented offers for vehicles and the terms to buy or lease them, the FTC says.

The commission is seeking relief that includes restitution and refunds to customers.

In another consumer protection case in federal court in New Mexico, a Navajo couple reached a $1 million settlement in a lawsuit against a Gallup, New Mexico, business that offered loans tied to tax returns. William and Sammia DeJolie had alleged that T&R businesses charged secret fees and hid true interest rates. The couple asked a judge this week to determine whether the settlement is fair and certify a group of about 14,950 people who could benefit from it.

Gorman said the dynamics of free enterprise in Western society often don’t fit in with Navajo culture. Words are significant and important, taken at face value, he said. And on a reservation where banks are sparse and no car dealerships exist, extra time must be taken to ensure customers who often travel long distances — particularly limited English speakers — understand, he said.

Customers also have a responsibility, Gorman said. The commission has been educating Navajos about credit and financing. Navajos should assess their personal finances before heading to a car lot and be ready to say no and walk away if they don’t like or understand the terms, he said.

They also should review agreements with the same diligence as purchasing livestock, something Navajo families have done for generations as part of a traditional lifestyle, Gorman said.

“When grandma purchases a sheep, she takes the time to assess the condition of that sheep,” he said. “She’ll look at the teeth, she’ll massage the chest area of the sheep and grandma will make the decision. Is the sheep too old, too skinny?”
The FTC complaint highlights a need for economic development on the reservation where tribal laws cap interest rates at below those of neighboring states, ensuring fairness for the business and consumer, Gorman said.

Navajo Nation committee calls for nurses in tribal jails

in Latest News

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — A committee of Navajo Nation lawmakers says it has voted to ask federal officials to assign medical staff to jails on the sprawling reservation that covers parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

In a statement, the Navajo Nation Council’s Law and Order Committee said Monday that it wants to ask the Indian Health Service to assign nurses to the facilities, which lawmakers say do not have resources to provide health care to inmates in house.

Federal figures show there are some 80 tribal jails nationwide that hold an estimated 2,500 inmates.

The Bureau of Indians Affairs manages about a quarter of them. Tribes have federal contracts to operate the rest.

An Associated Press review of jail records earlier this year found that on average health care was sought multiple times each week within the facilities.

Navajo Nation Council OKs bill on police standards, training

in Latest News

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is moving to set its own standards and training requirements for certification of tribal police officers instead of continuing to rely on processes used by the federal government or states.

A bill to create training requirements and create an oversight commission was approved by the Navajo Nation Council on Thursday, the final day of the council’s summer session.

Supporters of the legislation said tribal police and other law enforcement personnel need to be trained in addressing complex public safety issues related to the tribe’s reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The legislation was approved by the council on a 15-1 vote and is subject to approval by tribal President Russell Begaye.

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